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Polygamy in Islam

First of all, it should be remembered that the Hindus, Babylonians, Persians, Athenians, Jews and pre-Islamic Arabs recognised no limit to the number of wives a man could marry. Islam limited and restricted it in number; and hedged it with severe restrictions.

The attitude of a husband towards his wives must be such as to give no occasion to heart-break, jealousy, dissatisfaction, discontent and frustration to any of them.

There should be no cruelty, injustice, bias or partiality on the part of the husband. It is expected and seen that complete peace, harmony and tranquillity prevail in the household where the husband faithfully observes the injunctions of Islam regarding the equal status of all the wives in matters of maintenance, and general treatment.

If the husband cannot exercise this equality he is not allowed to marry more than one. Regarding this restriction of number and equal treatment, the Qur'an, ordains:-

... , then marry such women as seem good to you, two, three and four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, (Qur'an, 4:3)

To ensure that fairness and justice, the husband must have sufficient economic means to provide adequate food, clothing and other necessities of life to each of them; each of the wives must be provided with a separate house of her own, where only the husband has a right to enter without asking her permission first. The husband must spend equal time in the house of each wife. He must divide his nights among them, and must visit every wife in the morning.

This will give him a chance to look after the welfare of each every day, and will maintain good relationships with each of them.

The fact that the imposition of the above conditions has made polygamy very much restricted among the Muslims; and one seldom comes across cases of polygamy in the Muslim societies.

Adapted from the book: "Why Polygamy is Allowed in Islam?" by: "al-Hajj Ahmad H. Sheriff"

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